I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to talk like a Bahamian. But, not just any Bahamian – a real authentic Bahamian. If you plan to visit The Bahamas and don’t want to sound like a complete tourist, you’ve come to the right place.
The Bahamian dialect is one of the most unique in the world. We use words that I have only heard in the Gullah/Geechee culture and in some parts of West Africa, which is where most Bahamians originated from.
A few years ago, I wrote another blog post on 16 Bahamian words you need to know. Be sure to read that article, too to learn more words. If you want to hear the full pronunciation of these words, click here and here.
So, let’s start learning Bahamian words: the good, the bad and the downright vulgar.
1. Conchie Joe
How do you say it? “KUNK-KEY Joe”
What does it mean? A Conchie Joe is basically a white Bahamian. The term was used to distinguish local whites from white expatriates.
2. Hot brett
What does it mean? Hot brett is basically the Bahamian version of hot breath. And while everyone’s breath is hot, that’s not what Bahamians mean when they say hot brett. What they are basically saying is that the person’s breath smells bad.
3. Jam right up
What does it mean? This is a Bahamian’s way of describing someone’s body. If the person is short and stocky or has a squat-like shape, they are referred to as jam right up.
It could also mean to be in really tight confines. Let’s say you went to a friend’s house and it was only a one-bedroom with nine people living inside. A Bahamian would say, “all of dem people jam right up in dat house.“
How do you say it? Swit-CHA
What does it mean? Switcha is The Bahamas’ version of lemonade. However, it’s typically made with lime juice, sugar and water. So basically, it’s limeade, and it is absolutely delicious, especially on a hot day, which is quite common in The Bahamas.
5. Dese, dem, den
What does it mean? Dese, dem and den is just Bahamian’s way of saying, these, them and then. Bahamians have a real “th” problem. The “th” is automatically converted to a “d.”
How do you say it? YUH-seff
What does it mean: Yasef is the Bahamian version for yourself.
7. Small up yasef
What does it mean? Let’s say you and four other friends were trying to sit inside the backseat of car and it doesn’t have a lot of room. A Bahamian would command the friends to small up themselves. Meaning, to sit closely in a tight fashion so that everyone can fit. That way, you wouldn’t be jam right up. Seee, we’re already learning. LOL.
Small up yasef could also mean to make yourself less insignificant.
8. Big up yasef
What does it mean? Big up yasef means to walk loud and proud about who you are; to give yourself props.
Let’s say a young man is about to graduate from high school and he is graduating with honours after working a part-time job throughout high school and having to take care of his younger siblings. Yet, that young man remains humble and reticent to boast about his accomplishments. A Bahamian, while congratulating him, would say, “man, you better big up yasef.”
What does it mean? It means to get really angry/upset. It’s not uncommon to hear Bahamian say, “don’t cause me run hot.” This means, “don’t make me get angry.” If you hear, ” I run so hot.” That means, “I got so angry!”
Bahamians are typically very calm and peaceful people, but when they run hot, you’d better run. Because you are likely to hear the following words. Keep reading.
Warning: the following words are considered crass in Bahamian culture
There’s no sense in teaching you Bahamian words and phrases and deliberately omitting the bad ones. It’s important to know as many words as possible so that you are prepared if you hear them.
How do you say it? CUN-knee
What does it mean? Cunnie is Bahamian slang for a woman’s vagina. Its equivalent would be pu**y. It’s very vulgar and could start a serious fight if you use it with the wrong person. Often, on Bahamian Twitter or Bahamian TikTok, you might come across the phrase, CYC Nation. Basically, the CYC means, “Carry ya Cunnie.”
It’s a dismissive way of telling someone to f*ck off. Again, it’s very vulgar. So, if someone says it to you, please know that you have deeply offended them.
What does it mean? Don’t think the type of bread you make sandwiches with. Although, this bread is made for eating. Wink wink.
Bread is another Bahamian slang for a woman’s vagina. It’s nowhere near as offensive as cunnie. It’s just how many Bahamians refer to vagina.
How do you say it? CRAH-bee. Like SpongeBob’s crabby patty.
What does it mean? It’s a woman’s vagina. I know, I know. By now I’m sure it’s becoming quite apparent that Bahamians have some pretty graphic ways of describing the female genitalia.
How do you say it? You say it exactly as it’s spelled, like the cute little doggie in the window.
What does it mean? Be prepared for a few red faces and chuckles if you say the word, doggie in The Bahamas. In Bahamian culture, a man’s penis is referred to as a doggie. It’s not a curse word or anything like that, but you certainly wouldn’t use it in proper company.
The real way to talk like a Bahamian? Speak with conviction
If you’re going to use any of these phrases or words, the key to sounding authentic is to say these words with conviction. You can’t sound unsteady or unsure. You have to say it with authority. That’s the most important part.
Be sure to use some of your newly learnt words on your next trip to The Bahamas – just don’t use the vulgar ones, unless you are dead cool (really cool) with a Bahamian.
This Bahamian Gyal